Molly Tester is a graphic designer who works daily to make Denton look better.  Between designing for Denton Record Chronicle, First Friday Denton and local band, Chambers, you’ve probably seen her work without even knowing it.  Trade is thrilled to share our interview with this local talent.  Read on to see why she loves Denton and her tips on getting paid for what you create.

What do you make?

Lots of things, that’s why being a designer is just the best. Designing a campaign for a brand utilizes the same skill set as making a map, style guide and album cover. I stole this explanation from a designer I really admire, that design is the umbrella that covers all my interests and projects.

What drew you to that form of art?

Initially I just loved typography and wanted to work at a type foundry or something, but was exhilarated by how wild and exhausting it was to move between different media, audiences and clients that all fell under 'design'. And still is. You have to constantly be on your feet, moving between different forms of art that all inform each other, and I love that. Understanding spacing between letters isn’t enough. You have to know everything or find the people who know that one thing and convince them to teach you about it. So it gives me the opportunity to collaborate with a real big spectrum of people.

What tool would you love to have access to that you currently don’t?

Space. Carved out space that I can spread papers out, hang projects on to examine far away and use huge paper without having to rearrange my house. And printers. It’s difficult to experiment with printing.

Can you talk us through your creative process?  How do you go about designing a brand for a client?

I try and make sure it involves a lot of different things, especially in the beginning. Like for maps I’ve drawn them first with my left hand or painted with a really fat brush just to get comfortable and not care about getting it right initially. If I immediately make something with the mentality that it’s the end product, I don’t allow for any margin to create. I need to make mistakes and do lots of renditions.  

With clients, my favorite part is the initial conversation. I try to pick their brain about everything surrounding their product/business/organization or whatever it is that I’m designing. And then I become friends with their (insert here) and start becoming part of the story. Like what kind of beer would this website want, or what did this brand look like in middle school. Then I can begin to translate their story into a visual representation, to design. Always in pursuit of continuing that dialogue between the client and their audience.


Between working for the Denton Record Chronicle and designing for Chambers, your work is visible to a wide audience.  You are also part of the growing class of people in Denton who get paid for their creative work.  Do you have advice for emerging entrepreneurs and creatives aiming to achieve similar goals?  

WORK. It’s really easy to talk about ideas and goals in the dim light of Jupiter House, but ultimately you have to do something. Make something, anything. Also, angsty-artsiness leaves people (as it did me) to believe that the art gods will favor me and come to me as long as I follow my heart. Making art and making a living requires learning how to do business. Being an artists isn’t an excuse.



What’s your history with Denton?  What brought you here after attending the Art Institute in Boston and what makes you stay?

I grew up here, but the extent of my exposure to the creative community was hanging out at Waffle House talking about graffiti. Which was really important, but not the whole picture of Denton creatives. So when I moved to Boston for art school and would come back for holidays, I realized I had been blindsided to the momentum Denton had. And I wanted to be a part of it, give back to the place that shaped how I see things. So much of my work in college was about Denton and drew from the visual culture I had been surrounded by, which romanticized it significantly. But I’ve stayed because of the creative community, because so many people here are open to the opportunity to collaborate and work together to make Denton better and more beautiful.

On your website, you mention giving back to the creative community in Denton.  Why is that important to you?

Many are friends, and those who aren’t I would like to be friends with. They’re the type of people I admire and want to get a beer with. I think of it as one very strange family, that everyone knows of everyone and people are interested in making each other’s work more whole by whatever niche thing they do. So working together becomes this thing that furthers you and helps everyone, making a name for Denton. It’s hard not to fall in love with these quirky people.


 Are there any local artists that you take inspiration from?  How does that impact your work?

Morgan Everhart. She’s a phenomenal painter, and the thing that I admire the most is the non conventional dialogue her work creates. She was one of the pioneers of For The People art show, creating an environment for visual artists to showcase quality work and invited people in who weren’t ‘artists’ to interact with the work. Recently she did Eyes and Ears, a house show in which she painted and was fed direction from two musicians who were in turn playing based on her in process painting.

What future project are you most excited about?

I’m in the beginning stage of working with a videographer on a collaboration, and I’ve only worked with a handful of videographers so I’m really excited about learning more about their process and how to combine 2D/3D forces.

TRADE is a forthcoming collaborative creative space started by Heather Gregory and Tristan Bynum in the heart of Denton. TRADE works to bring together artists and creatives from different backgrounds and mediums by providing access to the space, tools, resources and creative community they need in order to thrive in Denton.